Weighing Sugar's "Toxic" Impact

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A recent CBS "60 Minutes" report raised eyebrows for its startlingly blunt claim - sugar is toxic.

It quoted a University of California doctor who said sugar is to blame for not just Type 2 diabetes, but also high blood pressure and heart disease.

Dr. Susan Brian of Topeka's Cotton-O'Neil Diabetes Center says new research shows sugars can increase bad cholesterol, much like it's long been known fat can. Brian says fructose creates small, dense LDLs, which goe through the blood stream and clog the arteries, which could lead to heart attack and stroke.

That's not all - sugar and high fructose corn syrup also increase insulin levels. Brian says that insulin is deposited into cells and, since some cancer cells actually have insulin on them, high levels of insulin actually stimulate cancers to grow.

Brian says the good news is you can counteract the sweets to some extent through exercise. The problem is that we're consuming more while becoming less active than ever. The average American consumes about 130 pounds of sugar and high fructose corn syrup a year. Brian says we really need only a few grams of sugar and 30 to 60 grams of total carbohydrates a day, depending on our size.

Sugars are everywhere - the sodas, juice drinks, cereals, candy and cookies - even fruit. Brian says the main thing is to get sugars from "good choices." For example, fruits contain sugar, but also contain water, fiber and antioxidants.

Another study from neuroscientists at the Oregon Research Institute might explain why we crave sweets to much. MRIs revealed sugar produced an addictive reaction similar to drugs like cocaine. The more sweets people consumed, the more they needed to get the same satisfaction.


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